Ackley, Bentley DeForest
- Harry Eskew
(b Spring Hill, PA, Sept 27, 1872; d Winona Lake, IN, Sept 3, 1958). American gospel music composer and editor, brother of Alfred H(enry) Ackley. He learned to play several instruments, including melodeon, piano, reed organ, alto horn, cornet, piccolo, and clarinet. He studied shorthand and typing and then worked as a stenographer in New York and Philadelphia. Several of his secular songs were published in the 1890s. From 1908 to 1915 Ackley was pianist and private secretary to the evangelist Billy Sunday, and during this period he began to compose gospel songs. In 1910 he and Homer A. Rodeheaver founded the Rodeheaver–Ackley publishing company in Chicago, which became the Rodeheaver Co. the following year. He worked for the firm as a composer and editor until his death; with his brother and Charles H. Gabriel, he provided many of the firm’s copyrighted publications. More than 2000 of Ackley’s gospel songs were published, including “If your Heart Keeps Right” (...